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6 Jul 07, 1:27 AM - What Makes One Disabled

Posted by Zephyr

Wow. There have been quite a storm of comments following my most recent post about the Social vs. the Medical Model of Disability. It appears the Medical Model isn't very popular anymore, because, as I understand, it treats PWDs as abnormal freaks who need to be cured and normalized, or otherwise put away in institutions. That doesn't sound very medical to me. That sounds like prejudice.

When I wrote about supporting the Medical Model, I was thinking more along the lines of this excerpt from Wikipedia:

The medical model of disability is a model by which illness or disability is the result of a physical condition, is intrinsic to the individual (it is part of that individual’s own body), may reduce the individual's quality of life, and causes clear disadvantages to the individual. As a result, curing or managing illness or disability revolves around identifying the illness or disability, understanding it and learning to control and alter its course."

I fully support the Social Model of Disability, but even if the whole world were fully accessible, my condition would still be disabling. There would still be a lot of regular activities closed off to me because of my arthritis. I still wouldn't be able to work outside of the home. I'd still have to take to my bed a lot. I wouldn't be able to go out dancing. Hence, I support medical science looking for better treatments and cures for arthritis. I can accept my disease, and embrace Disability Pride, but I'd still prefer to not have arthritis. My quality of life would be far better without it. I know there are lots of PWDs who don't feel the same way, and that's great. To each her own, I say.

Societal prejudice does greatly increased how disabled we are, but I think that in some cases, the disease alone can be disabling.

• Visit Arthritic Young Thing
*May contain adult content*

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At 09:47 AM on 06 Jul 2007, Peter Farrington wrote:

"I refer the honourable member to the answers I gave earlier." LOL

I'm with you on this Zephyr.

The social model accurately defines and describes the added difficulties the way the world is designed and operates serves to increase the problems faced by all those with disabilities.

For some it might well be the main or even sole cause of their disability, but for many others it is simply adding to the problems inherant in so many medical conditions and other causes of disability like accidental injury.

If I fall in the forrest and nobody hears me scream does that mean I am not disabled?

Certainly not.

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At 10:35 AM on 06 Jul 2007, Anonymous wrote:

Yep, I'm with you here. There is a real anti-Medical-Model bias among disabled people; I understand where this backlash comes from, but I think it excludes those of us for whom living with an *illness* is as much of a challenge as living with society's attitudes towards it. The Social Model and Medical Model should be able to co-exist. They're not truths, they're MODELS (as their name actually points out - weird, that). They describe the world the way an architect's plan describes a house: each one is *not* the only way of looking at a situation, but they provide useful ways of understanding it from different perspectives.

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At 11:59 AM on 06 Jul 2007, Alison Fox wrote:

If society's attitudes were better , i would still have my impairment , but I wouldn't have to encounter all these negative attitudes so I would feel more positive ; I would be able to get reasonable adjustments without hassle. Surely even for people who do have medical issues the social model is valuable in reducing the attitudinal and other barriers they face . It is necessary and it is relevant to all of us as it helps us be respected as individuals

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At 08:49 PM on 06 Jul 2007, Thea wrote:

I know there are people with mental health problems who see them just as a different way of being, but for me I'm with you on this one. I consider my mental health status to be inherently disabling. I am far more limited by the illness than I am by prejudice, lack of societal adjustments etc.

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At 10:29 AM on 07 Jul 2007, Mary wrote:

Absolutely. Even if you put me in the most accessible place imaginable with people who had all really *got* the Social Model, I would still be in pain and no amount of campaigning or legislation would change it. Pain is not good. I need medical help with my symptoms - I need pain relief.

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At 11:17 AM on 07 Jul 2007, Mike10613 wrote:

I just wish that the government and large companies wouldn't make life so stressful for disabled people. I have arthritis and other problems. I'm not able to do a lot physically and I do a lot on the Internet. I've been warned my Internet activities could mean my benefits could be stopped - and I could be deemed fit for work. Gordon Brown had 10 years to end the poverty trap and it is worse than ever. Just keeping warm is a problem. The price per KWH for gas and electricity on my bill has just been increased by around 50% by Scottish Power. If you're with this company check the back of your bill - you could be in for a shock. Why don't we get a £200 heating allowance? Why can't the excise licence on cars be added to the tax on petrol. I pay £175 for car tax and do around 500 miles a year. It's a disgrace and the government don't listen. Gordon Brown promises to listen - he won't - he hasn't in the past 10 years; he won't start now.

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